Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Letter to the editor: climate change science

James Gleeson's points about landfills and climate change do no stand
up to examination.

He claims that landfills are a natural phenomenon, citing bogs and
landslides as examples. Neither bogs nor landslides involve the
burying of masses of toxic and volatile chemicals with all the
resultant dangers and so the comparison is invalid.

He cites Dr Antonio Zichichi's comments this year, saying that he
pointed out that climate change is driven by natural phenomena. Dr
Zichichi is not a climate scientist but has published a paper pointing
out problems with current climate modelling. His paper is available
online and contains the following, emphasised in bold text: "it is not
possible to exclude that the observed phenomena may have natural
causes. It may be that man has little or nothing to do with it." Even
if Dr Zichichi is right (and all of the thousands of climate
scientists are wrong), he is simply saying that their methods are
wrong. His paper does not put forward any evidence that humans are not
actually to blame.

The claim that "Human activity has less than 10pc impact on
environment" also comes from Dr Zichichi. Consider that a few thousand
years ago there were vastly fewer humans on the planet and each one
had a far smaller impact than humans today. So in the blink of the
planet's eye we have gone from having almost zero impact to 10pc. This
is an enormous, unprecedented change. It's hard to imagine how this
could occur without a significant impact on the planet!

Mr Gleeosn also cites Dr David Bellamy's stance on global warming. Dr
Bellamy wrote to the Sunday Times on 2005 to say he had "decided to
draw back from the debate on global warming". Before that he made
incredible claims about the worlds glaciers in a letter to New
Scientist. When Guardian journalist George Monbiot pressed him for his
source material it turned out he'd seen the figures on a website run
by a climate sceptic, who in turn could not provide any source for
them. You can read the details at
http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2005/05/10/junk-science/.

The fact is that climate scientists are so sure about the human role
in climate change that the UN IPCC has been able to get their
conclusions accepted by countries such as the USA and Saudi Arabia who
have a vested interest in business as usual. That just would not be
possible if there was any serious doubt that we are to blame.

Update: Published with the Monbiot paragraph omitted.

Update: He wasn't happy with my reply so I had to reply again.

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